Encinitas Farm Helps Feed Food Insecure In San Diego
"Pay what you can" is the philosophy of Coastal Roots Farm, a non-profit Jewish community farm and education center in Encinitas that’s helping feed San Diegans.
The organization sits on 17 acres of land in Encinitas and it shares organic produce with those who need it most in the region.
In fact, they donate over half of their harvest each year to community members who lack access to fresh food.
Last year they donated more than 40,000 pounds of vegetables, fruit, herbs and eggs across San Diego County.
Coastal Roots Farm President and CEO Javier Guerrero said they help the community through partnerships with local hunger relief organizations, pay what you can farm stands and free food distributions.
“Now during COVID you would come, you would fill out a little menu of items that you would check and it would be bagged for you. So we are trying to keep everybody safe,” Guerrero said. “Then you would go up to the pay what you can kiosk and you can choose in increments how much you want to reduce up to 30 dollars.”
The organization focuses on helping local Holocaust survivors, active-duty military and veterans, immigrants and refugees, Native American communities and low-income seniors and families.
Coastal Roots Farm Education Manager Sharone Oren said they also run camps to educate children of all backgrounds on how to connect with nature.
"Whether it's camp or school and group field trips that come out here, we provide partial and full scholarships,” Oren said. “So for us growing this food out here, having the kids be engaged in that process — they're planting and pulling weeds and harvesting — we know that is all going back to those schools and those families who couldn't otherwise afford such an experience.”
While Coastal Roots continues to expand as a self-sustaining farm where each plant, animal and fungus contributes to a thriving microecosystem, Guerrero said the need for food from their farm has greatly increased during the pandemic.
“Prior to COVID, it was about a third of the produce that we were offering through the pay what you can farm stand was being donated, people were needing that food. It’s actually grown closer to two-thirds during COVID.”
The farm stand is open Thursday 12 to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 10 to 3 p.m., and their pay what you can policy is discreetly processed at a cash register.